One of the most effective tools for evaluating quail habitat isn't a fancy gadget or a complicated mathematical formula--it's a simple, everyday softball.
The Softball Habitat Evaluation Technique (SHET...careful how you pronounce it) highlights the similarities between a quail and a softball. They're about the same size and behave similarly in the air, exhibiting "restricted flight." Patches of woody cover for quail should be no more than a softball's throw apart, as that's about as far as they fly when flushing to escape predators. A thrown ball should be able to "bounce and hide," indicating the correct vegetation thickness. If the ball sticks in the grass without bouncing, it may be too thick for a quail to navigate effectively, and if you can see it easily on the ground then aerial predators scanning for quail can probably see them, too.
These instructions are helpfully printed on our custom SHET softballs, which we are prepared to give away to folks who will use them to help quail! Here's how you can earn one:
- Write a paragraph of at least 150 words describing what you have learned from a Quail Decline Initiative program, article, video, or other resource. There are several of these right here on the Wild Wonderings blog and in the "Quail" playlist on the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute YouTube page. Also describe how you plan to use your softball to help quail in your area.
- Email this paragraph to firstname.lastname@example.org
- If your submission is approved, we will let you know via email and will request a shipping address to send you a softball, at no charge!
You may also send any questions to email@example.com, or message us on Facebook.